By Diane Hagan
It’s a painful story. A company makes a significant investment in high-end collaboration solutions—maybe a few different conference rooms, a divisible training room, and some huddles spaces—but, they’re not getting used. For the executive responsible for this large purchase, this is a disaster. The goal of any high-tech AV room is not to simply impress, but to actually be used for business. It takes proper planning for adoption to happen, and the training required to achieve this must follow a carefully thought out strategy. When it’s brushed-off as a last-minute, cursory obligation, often done by someone in IT, the solution will most likely sit and collect dust. Here’s how this nightmare can be avoided.
Change Management Sets the Stage for Acceptance
Change is always a challenge. There’s going to be a lot of resistance to doing anything new and different. Company leaders must find ways to overcome this reluctance. That usually begins with change management. Before the solutions are actually deployed, employees can get warmed-up to the idea. It might sound silly, but by sending out newsletters and emails discussing the arrival of the new AV technology, everyone starts to acclimate to the idea. The messaging can provide specific examples of how a department can benefit from using it. It can include use cases of how others have improved their throughput with the technology. Advanced communication showing how the solution increases productivity sets the stage for acceptance and proves the value of making the transition. An effective training and adoption strategy often includes this first step.
Education Professionals Deliver the Best Training
All end-users should be trained. People can only use the technology if they know how, and although the IT staff may feel it’s intuitive to operate, it’s not. That’s “life through their lens,” and that’s exactly why they’re not the right resource for delivering training.
“Adoption is the biggest hurdle to a successful AV deployment,” says Bonnie Fritz, Project Manager for OfficePro, an IVCi partner focused on providing professionals around the world with software and technology training. “Typically, an internal IT person is focused on what they deem more important concerns such as: the security of the network and not having enough bandwidth to support video conferencing. As a result, they’re more inclined to rush through training and concentrate on fixing infrastructure issues, their primary responsibility.”
Typically, AV integrators leave the training to either installers or engineers. Sometimes, it’s even pushed off to a technology partner, so it’s often done quickly by someone with a technical background. This is not the skillset needed to actually ensure adoption and often leads to poor results. “IVCi in partnership with OfficePro delivers training delivered by professionals with a solid background in adult learning, instructional design and customer service,” adds Fritz. “For end-users to truly embrace the technology, they have to get comfortable using it. This requires hands-on learning with mentoring from an experienced educator, not a programmer, system architect, or engineer.”
Expert AV Integrators Deliver Training Services
Done correctly, training can be the most important step to ensuring acceptance of the new technology. In fact, IVCi feels so strongly about it, that training and adoption services are included as a key line item on many quotes. “Training for collaboration systems should be a requirement for all new implementations where end-users are new to AV technology or even if there’s a significant overhaul of an existing solution,” advises Jan Timmer, an IVCi Senior Account Manager with over 20 years of industry experience. “When an organization invests a large part of their IT budget in communication and collaboration technologies, they should make sure user adoption is a number one priority. This is crucial to realizing their ROI and objectives that were established at the start of the project.”
It’s important to address training issues early on. Functional requirements for an AV solution are defined during pre-sales meetings. During the discovery process where all space requirements and goals are carefully considered, questions should also be directed towards disclosing the knowledge and experience levels of the general user population and the size of the IT department; often the group is short-staffed, so training becomes an additional burden. Outsourcing this service is well worth the expense. Employing education professionals with the appropriate skillset is a practical, cost-effective method of delivery.
Using training and adoption services is insurance for getting the full value from a large technology investment; skip this step and the project could fail completely, simply because employees aren’t using it. That’s why an experienced AV integrator includes it. “To stress the value of training services, I show how little it costs in relation to the overall investment,” Timmer shares. “I do this by providing the cost-per-person, which is often a very easy number to digest. Key stakeholders in the project should quickly see that it’s is an affordable add-on that’s easily outsourced for maximum benefit.”
After attending a training session, knowledge retention is another challenge. If the technology isn’t used every day, it’s quickly forgotten. Printed and laminated Quick Reference Guides can be kept with equipment, so anyone entering the room has immediate access to easy-to-use, step-by-step instructions. These educational support documents should be written by training professionals so they’re simple to understand and offer just essential information.
Customized Training Sessions for Best Results
An effective training and adoption strategy is customized. It’s as individual as the solution itself. That’s why a solid training program offers options. From online sessions required for a large, dispersed audience to focused classes for rooms with advanced controls, the model chosen is what best suits a company’s needs. “We realize a “one-size-fits-all” method is ineffective when it comes to end-user training,” Timmer adds. “That’s why IVCi always offers choices, so the most effective methods are used.”
Customized training should be offered in a variety of formats. Some of these may include:
- Instructor-Led Training (ILT)
Live instruction where there’s a single instructor for a small class (typically 5-7 people, depending on the topic) is often the best approach. Multiple, short 30-minute training sessions offered across a couple of days, gives everyone the opportunity to not only find an appropriate time to attend, but to get quick, effective customized instruction. Students actively participate in the class so they’re involved in their learning. The following are examples of customized ILT trainings for specific audiences: general user instruction, train the trainer sessions, and power user trainings, designed for the primary people responsible for using the room.
- Roving or On-Site Support
An instructor roams the floor waiting for an employee to request help. This promotes adoption by allowing end-users to get assistance when they need it. Also, no longer are they reluctant to ask questions, since the instructor is constantly trolling the area with the intent of helping. Whereas an employee may hesitate to bother busy IT staff with questions, an available trainer encourages engagement and seeks to remove any embarrassment or discomfort.
- Virtual Instructor-Led Training (vILT)
Although not nearly as effective as live, instructor-led training, vILT including webinars and product demonstrations can be a great solution for reaching many people at different locations.
Evaluating the effectiveness of training is crucial to determining if the ROI and objectives established during the project planning stage were indeed met. Prior to starting an AV implementation, benchmarks should be established so there are parameters for measuring results. These could include: measuring how many team members are using the technology after a set period of time or recording the reduction in the number of support phone calls. These can help the executive team evaluate the overall return on the investment and reinforce the value of the technology to those employees still resistant to adopting it.
“Effective user training improves productivity and reduces the number of phone calls made to my help desk staff,” says Vincent Carroll, IVCi’s Client Services Manager. “Simple, straightforward issues—such as a display is connected to the wrong input or a piece of equipment is unplugged—will be eliminated. There will be a boost in productivity because the end-user will be able to resolve minor issues on their own and only call for help when there are more complicated problems.”
It’s important to monitor the effectiveness of any training session. Surveys provided to participants soliciting valuable feedback should always be included. By including employees’ advice in making improvements, they become even more incentivized to use the system and support its adoption.
Embracing new technology can be challenging for many. With a carefully defined and executed training and adoption strategy, this transition can go smoothly. Outsourcing this key step is a great way to secure the success of any expensive implementation. Don’t forget that technology is nothing without people using it. By working closely with a professional educational services provider, employees will be given the instruction they need to use new AV rooms and solutions effectively.
IVCi, a collaboration expert with over two decades of proven experience, recommends creating a training and adoption strategy during the planning stages of every AV and UC implementation, so the solution will be embraced by end-users. For more information about the training options available to your organization, contact your local IVCi sales representative at 800-224-7083.
Diane Hagan is a Marketing Content Specialist for IVCi in Hauppauge, NY. She has over 20 years of experience in Marketing Communications.
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